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30th September 1999ED WILSON
I took my daughter Rachel (age 6) to her first ever match on Saturday. A 3-3 draw was a better start than my 1st Queens game-a 2-1 defeat by Stranaer in August 1965. Rachel thoroghly enjoyed the match but even she could see that our defence was clueless. Andy Aitken had a nightmare but at least we know he can play. Our full-backs are clearly not up to the task.It`s all very well having a right back who looks good on the ball.Sadly he cannot defend. As for Kerr maybe if he loses about 2 stones in weight it would help. Sorry to be so negative but if we keep losing 3 goals every home game then the delights of Albion Rovers, Montrose etc await next season.
29th September 1999EWAN LITHGOW
re Kirk Dobie's brother.

I can't understand this. I know several people who are quite regularly late for matches due to finishing work at 3pm etc. and they always seem to get in. There used to be a latecomer's gate for the Glasgow Street end, next to the stand although I'm not sure if this still operates. If it was closed the instructions are to enter at the main office door by pressing the door buzzer to attract attention. I've done this myself.

Did your brother and his friends actually stand outside a closed turnstile for half an hour?

If they actually asked a steward and he did not tell them this then there's something breaking down in the system somewhere. Did he get a name?

Who finally let them in? Did they pay? If they did not then this should be reported to the Palmerston office as for safety reasons as well as financial it should not happen.
28th September 1999KIRK DOBIE
I thought you might be interested in my brothers recent experience at Palmerston.

After a 120 mile journey from Paisley, then getting stuck in various roadworks, he found himself 15 minutes late for the kick off against Stenhousemuir.

Anyway, the tunstiles were shut and nobody would let him and a few others in.

Being persistant he talked his way in at half -time but had to buy two demented 'muir fans a pie each to calm them down as they were frothing at the mouth by then.

Anyone care to explain this ? I'll happily pass it on
23rd September 1999SANDY ORR
Paul makes some good points about the current situation that Queens are once again in this season. However I must disagree that we should have held on to some of the players who have left us in the last few months. My first point is that when good offers come in for young players then they must be seriously considered, we may not have had a better offer come the end of this season, neither should Queens get in the way of promising young players careers. Lilley and McAllister give us the opportunity to prove that Queens have one of the best youth set ups in Scotland. Also Queens are not in the finacial position to turn down generous offers, which may reap us more cash in the future. Point 2, there is nothing that we can do to stop a player leaving under Bosman should he wish to do so. We lost 2 players that way this season Townsley and Thomson. Townsley had made it clear for some time that he wished to play at a higher level, and he is certainly doing it now. Queens simply could not meet Thomson cash demands, and I believe that Arbroath had to dig deep to get his signature. Again he seems to have made the right move as Arbroath are currently top, and also the form team in Div 2, and thats with Thomson suspended.

We have all heard the rumours about some of Nesovics of the field antics, and whether or not they are true, Queens can't afford to pay full time wages for a player who rarely performed on the park last year. Also, look at Albion Rovers position.

Yes, Queens need a few new faces, but it was always going to be hard to replace some of the players who have left for pastures new, particularly Deggsie.

To finish, I don't think we have brought in players of inferior quality, what I do think we have is a number of players who are seriously under-performing this season. This is the immediate problem that the management team must tackle, and I'm sure they are. In the mean time lets keep paying our 8 quid (after all its a tenner for Partick & Hamilton) and get behind the team.
23rd September 1999EWAN LITHGOW
Once again I find myself compelled to defend the club I love from unfair criticism, this time from Paul Pearson.

You are correct in one thing Paul, at the end of last season we had assembled a team in promotion form but I can't agree that we "disassembled" it.

At the end of last season we lost seven squad members. Only two of these, McAllister and Townsley, were actually part of that team. Three players were released, Craig Potts who was long term injured and hadn't played a game since September '98, Gary Russell who had started five games and Alex Nesovic who played only once in the last 12 games (in place of the suspended Mallan) and whose release probably had more to do with his attitude than his undoubted talent.

Jim Thomson started just one game under the new management and was sent off after an hour of it. Tommy Bryce started just once on his return. Effectively, neither was part of the successful team. Despite this, the club were keen for both to stay and offered them new contracts. They chose more money and full time football with Arbroath as is their right under the Bosman Rule. Incidentally, Thomson has played just twice for Arbroath, being subbed at half time with a hamstring injury against us and being sent off at Ross County on his return. He is presently serving a six match suspension so I'd have to doubt whether he'd be any help to us presently anyway.

Derek Townsley was, of course, our inventive heart. He was behind nearly everything good in those last twelve games last season and the club did try to keep him. However, as a 26 year old, he had the right to leave under Bosman for no fee and we cannot hope to compete with an offer of Premier League football, the opportunity to play with / against international stars and a premier sized wage packet. On the contrary, the club should be commended for keeping him long enough to save our season last year instead of cashing in when a fee could still be obtained.

This brings me to the case of Jamie McAllister. As a 21 year old Jamie would still have been able to walk out of the club out of contract although we would have been able to demand a "compensation fee" at tribunal. Neither club wanted that situation and so Jamie was sold for an agreed fee. Let's be quite clear, the Bosman Rule does not enable us to keep a player until he's 24 years old, it merely entitles us to compensation if they do go. Jamie was only a first team regular in the last five months of 1998/99. Our new management duo's first game at East Fife was only Jamie's third start at full back all season. The reported fee represents a good deal for the club and, whilst Jamie is a fine crosser of a ball, his absence is not the reason we're struggling to score goals.

Of course, since the start of this season we've lost another two players in David Mathieson and David Lilley. Mathieson's loss to long term injury was unfortunate to say the least but is hardly something the club can be blamed for. His replacement, Hillcoat, has performed pretty well after a shaky start.

David Lilley's sale to Aberdeen may be harder to understand but was stll correct in my opinion. Once a Premier League club come calling (and Aberdeen, for all their current problems, are still Scotland's third team, at least financially) you cannot expect a player not to want to go. If you deny him that chance he becomes unsettled, feels betrayed and will probably lose his form. Even if he doesn't you lose him at the end of his contract anyway. Better to negotiate an amicable deal now and get on with it. As you say, Paul Stewart has looked quite good so far but it's still early days for him. Certainly, David Lilley's absence is even less to blame for our lack of creativity than Jamie's is.

So where does this leave us?

The typical team you rightly praise highly last year read :- Mathieson, Lilley, McAllister, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Townsley, Leslie, Adams, Mallan and Weir.

The equivalent team now reads :- Hillcoat, Stewart, Kerr, Rowe, Aitken, Cleeland, Harvey, Leslie, Bailey or Adams, Mallan and Caldwell.

It's not that different. Assuming that Adams is in the side, six of the players are the same. Within the other five, Hillcoat was necessary and, presumably, temporary and Caldwell is surely an improvement on Mark Weir. A month ago Mr McNaught had him as our best asset. Of course, Stewart, Kerr and Harvey are not as good as the players they've replaced but Stewart has a chance. The same people said the same thing about Jamie when he replaced Des McKeown but that's all forgotten now. Kerr is quite solid but has an annoying tendency to do one really stupid thing per game. This cost us the match against Arbroath and probably goals against Berwick and Hearts. If he won't do then we'll have to get someone else. This needn't mean throwing cash at the problem. Harvey has disappointed and seems to prefer passing the ball sideways or backwards rather than forwards. He inevitably slows any move down and is not fit for ninety minutes. I wouldn't argue, he needs to do better.

The loss of form by Rowe, Adams, Weir and, especially, Mallan is probably the main reason for our poor start but these same players were up to the job four months ago. Surely they deserve more time to rediscover it or are you suggesting that McAllister and Townsley just made them look good?

Let me finish with three observations regarding the current situation :-

1 - Why is it that the minute the club sells two players for significant cash people want them to spend it (Paul Pearson is not unique in his opinion)? This time last year, after an even worse start, the shouts were for managerial change not player purchases because fans accepted we had no cash. To try to buy our way out of trouble just because we briefly have some is extremely short sighted. As I pointed out to Mr McNaught, just to get where we are has cost 0.5 million in three years. We can't afford to spend money recklessly.

2 - Not really Paul's point, more a response to comments in the Standard this week. It's very easy to shout about other people putting in more finance. I don't see those who say the Board should provide more capital queueing up to put their own money in. The present Board, especially Chairman Norman Blount, have put in a lot of their own funds with no real likelihood of ever getting it back. It's easy to say stand aside for someone who will but nobody's waiting to take us over Dominic Keane style.

3 - With all the comments pleading for new players to save our season, I've yet to hear one name suggested. Who's out there, available for a reasonable fee and better than what we already have?
22nd September 1999PAUL PEARSON
Queens have made their traditional start to the season. We are looking down the barrel of a relagation positon, entrenched in the dog fight that means another long and ardous season fighting hard to stay up.

Why are we in this familar positon.

We sold on/punted our best players on, got caught out with the Bossam rule and brought in players in of inferiour quality.

At the end of last season we had assembled a team which was the form team of the divison and worthy of a promotion spot based on our end of season form. The sqaud was full of invention which could quite easily create goals and at the same time were frugal between out own posts.

In our infinte wisdom we dissasembled this squad. We let go the invention and in my opinion brought in players of inferior quality.

I question the clubs long term ambiton. This season is vitally crucial. W e have the opertunity to make it into the 1st division and rather than kepping our better players for 1 more season to make it into 1st divison we sell them and replace them with players not of the same standard.

I pay 8 pound every week, I also travel to away games and feel cheated at the moment witht the way the team on the park is heading. The thing that annoys me the most is that the management insist that we have the players already here at Palmerston to do the job. I do not agree. For atleast three season we have needed a striker who can finish the chances. The replacement for Jammie MaCalister is no where in his class and I feel he is overweight and lacks pace.

Paul Harvey maybe has been a good player but for Queens is just not in the same class a Deggsy.

Even letting Tommy Bryce and Alex Nesovic go two players with undoubted skill baffels me. We have no flare players in the 1st eleven squad who can create something special.

Also the loss of Jim Thomson would have been great cover for Rowe and Aitken.

One possible shinning light is the inclusion of Paul Stweart who is doing well at right back.

I hope I am wrong and would love the team on the park to prove me wrong but I am afraid we are destined for the normal battle to stay up. To be honest this is not good enough. We need to be more ambitious than this. We have a great potential fan base in this area but the paying public is not going to turn up to watch the contiual breaking up of good teams. It becomes demoralising.

The club has to get a balance between staying fancially stable and making progress. At the moment I only see Queens as a football farm for the big clubs to harvest at will.

It is time to strenghen the squad and bring in quality players so we can compete and reverse our league situation.

How many queens fans can be satisfied with this situation. Not many can be.
22nd September 1999ANDY COWAN
In Reply to Jock Duff.


Queens have one of the youngest teams in the second division, if not the country. Aitken, Stewart, Leslie, Cleeland, Caldwell, Adams, Robison and Mathieson are all under 25 and all regularly in the first team squad. Add to this, McCaig, Boyle, Weir, Uriarte and Strain who are all fringe players under 18, it seems odd to ask for more youth in the squad.

What Queens need is a few ,more experienced pros to help bring on the youngsters.

Actually, what they really need is someone with a bit of creativity in midfield to break down defences as all too often moves break down in the last third.

Come on you Queens.
21st September 1999JOCK DUFF
What is wrong with QOS?

Surely they need to inject the team with some youth, cos I think a lot of the players are too old now, it's time for youth, surely there is quality youth players there?
10th September 1999EWAN LITHGOW
All right I can take a hint. This one's short.

Just to say that whilst I stand by what I said about John Hillcoat's early season errors, I think he's been outstanding in the last three games (Alloa, Partick & Clyde) and is probably the main reason we've got two points from these games. Long may his current form continue.

Incidentally, according to Andy Murray in his programme article for the Alloa game, David Beckham is already at Palmerston, disguised as Steven Leslie!

Thanks to George Rowe for the acknowledgement of my debate with Ewan McNaught in the Clyde programme.
9th September 1999RICHARD ISAACS
Did anyone see 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' tonight? David Beckham playing for Queen of the South ... if only !!!!!

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